Tag Archives: new monasticism

Monasticism old and new: Where are we now and what next?


 

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It’s all very well to talk about monasticism as something we COULD learn from today. But is anyone ACTUALLY learning? Short answer: Yes. This is the last clip I’ll post from the monasticism chapter of my Medieval Wisdom: An Exploration with C S Lewis:

For much of this chapter, I have been treating modern appropriation of monasticism as a “What if?” The truth is, however, that despite the plunging statistics in traditional Roman Catholic monasticism in the West, recent decades have seen a renewed and widespread interest in adapting parts of the medieval monastic heritage for modern use.

Do the spiritual resources of the monastic tradition have anything to offer to the person who has made commitments to spouse and family, or is pursuing a secular vocation—or someone who simply does not desire, or does not sense God’s call—to make the lifelong vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience required of monastics? History gives a resounding “yes.” After all, monasticism was never intended to encompass a different set of spiritual values than those followed by all Christians. It offered a means of living the Christian life with more single-minded intensity.

For nearly a millennium, there have been people (one might call them “monastic groupies”) who have connected themselves to a monastery in a less formal way, dedicating themselves to certain spiritual disciplines while remaining in the world. Continue reading

New monastic Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove retells monastic history


Though the following is a critical review, I want to be clear: I am deeply sympathetic with the aims and perspectives of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I just think we need to be historically responsible when we compare new and old movements.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, “A Vision So Old It Looks New” in Monasticism Old and New (Christian Reflection, Baylor University, 2010 issue)

This article was adapted from Wilson-Hartgrove’s book New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2008).

In his introduction to this issue of Christian Reflection, Robert Kruschwitz summarizes this article : “In A Vision So Old It Looks New (p. 11), Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove explores how monasticism over the centuries has offered a powerful critique of mainstream culture. Tracing its origins from Antony and the fourth-century desert Christians, through the medieval monasteries inspired by Benedict of Nursia, to the intentional communities of radical Protestant Reformers, he shows, ‘In every era God has raised up new monastics to pledge their allegiance to God alone and remind the church of its true vocation’” (8).

Wilson-Hartgrove opens the article: “It is hard to be a Christian in America today. . . . The church in America is not living up to what it claims to be. Somehow we have lost our way.” (11) Especially he gives examples of behavior: spousal abuse, racism, hypocrisy in areas of sexuality. We ain’t that different from secular society, or sometimes worse, in many of those areas. Continue reading

A Catholic journalist on the Emerging Church


National Catholic Reporter writer Tom Roberts has been doing an extended series (23 articles and counting) called “In Search of the Emerging Church.” Articles touch on Shane Claiborne and the new monasticism, Eucharistic communities, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque, NM, and much more.

“Emergent” is dead, and the leftovers have gone to the Christian Left, neo-Anabaptism, and neo-Puritanism


I’m in day 3 of Acton University. What follows are my notes from a session that took place yesterday, June 17, 2010. The presenter was Dr. Anthony Bradley, an associate professor of theology and ethics at The King’s College in New York City and a research fellow at the Acton Institute. I am oversimplifying his main arguments in the intentionally provocative title of this post, but I think I’ve captured the basics. If you have any relationship to Emergent, you will doubtless find something in what follows to take offense at. However, I think his typology and analysis of the movement is useful.

Dr. Bradley holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. As a research fellow, Dr. Bradley lectures at colleges, universities, business organizations, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious and cultural issues have been published in a variety of journals, including: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Detroit News, and World Magazine. He studies and writes on issues of race in America, hip hop, youth culture, issues among African Americans, the American family, welfare, education, and modern international forms of social injustice, slavery, and oppression.

[NOTE: the indenting and numbering format problems in the following post have now been fixed]

The Emergent Church, Bradley

Spoke at the outset about King’s College, where he teaches, which is in Manhattan, in the Empire State Building and across the state. Marvin Olasky is provost of King’s College.

Has been with the institute since 2002. Taught at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. Then Olasky “siphoned him off.” He presented on Emergent in 2005/6 at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. They were in a room half the size of this, then they had to put them in another room, seating 300 people. They didn’t realize how big the movement had gotten. But in 2006 it was beginning to END. Started in 1989.

He wrote an article on World Magazine’s website where he declared the end of the movement. Tony Jones, Driscoll, others are saying the movement is over.

20 years is not “new.” These churches are not dead. There are still Emergent churches out there. No longer provocative, though. Not sexy. These churches are full of 30- 40-something people with kids. Men going bald. Continue reading

Christian stability in a frantically mobile world: A new book


In his co-written book Inhabiting the Church, New Monastic pioneer Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove began to reflect on what Benedictine monasticism can teach us today. Now he has dedicated an entire book to the Benedictine virtue of stability. Pennsylvania bookstore Hearts & Minds has posted an intriguing review of the book. A brief excerpt follows (click the link above for the whole review):

Lauren Winner writes on the back cover “Stability may be the virtue of the 21-st century Christians most ignore—and the virtue we are most called to embrace.  This fine book will inspire you to look at your own life, asking ‘Where am I restless? Where might God be calling me to be rooted, to stay put?'”

Indeed, most of us have failed in this virtue; we have not cared for our neighbors (or our own neighborhoods) as we ought.  We have not been rooted in place, or really engaged with the people and plot of creation in which we are placed.  We have been too busy to participate in the simpler rhythms of life.

The monks did it: Mining medieval resources


My, how time flies. (In the words of the immortal Groucho Marx: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” But then again, in the words of the immortal Douglas Adams: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.”) Last May my Patron Saints for Postmoderns was not yet published, I was hoping against hope that my book proposal Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants [maybe Medieval Wisdom for Today’s Christians?] would be accepted by a publisher, and I was posting a blog entry over at Christianity Today’s history blog eagerly anticipating my first Medieval Congress at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Now Patron Saints has been out for many months, Medieval Wisdom is due to the publishers (Baker Books) next December, and the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo is again just around the corner as May approaches. Here’s my CT blog post from last year anticipating my first Congress:

The Monks Did It

If we move beyond a piecemeal approach to medieval Christianity, we can mine the rich vein of its spiritual, intellectual, and practical resources.

by Chris Armstrong

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This weekend I am attending the 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. This is the largest and most prestigious international gathering for medievalist scholars, convening over 3,000 scholars in over 600 sessions of papers, panel discussions, roundtables, workshops, and performances.

Frankly, though I am no medievalist, just thinking about being there is making me drool.

What’s an American church history geek doing attending a meeting that will feature hundreds of highly technical papers in a field I hardly know, based on texts in languages I’ve never learned – Latin, Old English, Old Norse? Continue reading

Department of oxymorons: Ten “hot issues” in Christian history today


Another re-post from Christianity Today’s history blog:

Department of Oxymorons: Ten “Hot Issues” in Christian History Today

by Chris Armstrong

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We moderns (and even we postmoderns) love top-ten lists. David Letterman has even managed to prop up a wilting career by providing one daily.

This list reaches fearlessly into the land of the oxymoron – you know, those lovely self-contradictory statements: “jumbo shrimp,” “airline food,” “Microsoft Works™.” The oxymoron for today: “Hot issues in history.”

That was the topic put to me a couple of years ago when my seminary’s sister undergraduate institution, Bethel College, was looking to spiff up the Christian history content of its Western Civ curriculum. Would I come talk to the course’s cadre of professors about what’s “new and exciting” in this field of history? So I took my best shot.

I can’t say my colleagues in the guild of Christian historians are staying awake nights wrestling with any of the following 10 issues. But these are all matters that I’ve recently seen discussed – some of them with some heat – by historically conscious evangelicals. If there is a theme to the list, it is this: How does our history define us, and how should it?

So here goes: Continue reading